Lightning strike causes fire suppression problem in Frederick

Lightning strike causes fire suppression problem in Frederick
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)

FREDERICK, OK (KSWO) -Officers and workers at the Tillman County Law Enforcement Center are cleaning up after lightning stuck the building and caused a bit of a scare.

Strong winds and rain rolled through the area Friday when lightning hit the center that triggered the fire suppression system. Water came pouring down and flooded several jail cells, the dispatch center and several other areas throughout the building.

Tillman County Undersheriff Michael Burton said they're getting estimates on the damage so they know exactly what they need make the repairs. In the meantime, they're focused on the electrical and camera issues. However, he's worried insurance won't cover the damage and will force the money to come out of the sheriff's budget.

"It was full on flooding. We had more than half an inch of water in the dispatch area," Burton said.

A failure in the water sprinkler system is what Burton says caused the flooding after lightning struck the center and forced six inmates to be moved to a different part of the jail.

"It's puzzling, because it just broke a portion of the sprinkler head off with no signs of damage and no signs of force," he said.

The power was out for more than 30 minutes and the backup generator failed, sending their operation into a downward spiral. No operating cameras and an inoperable dispatch center. 

"If those systems do fail, it could potentially shut us down countywide. And when I say countywide, that's all communication, fire, police and ambulance services," Burton explained.

Burton says this is the first time this has happened at the facility. Even though they were without power, he says not being able to communicate with citizens and each other wasn't an option. So, they turned to their cell phones and police radios to stay in constant contact as best they could.

"If it wasn't for the dedication of our staff coming in a lot of the time and helping us out, it would make things a lot tougher," he said.

Burton says they're still working with the jail administrator to determine exactly what happened with the sprinkler system to ensure it won't happen again.

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